The crowd in Paris is not simply an audience of spectators, that is only part of the composition. In each stand of the Bercy there are former competitors to be found, Paris Grand Slam medallists, Tournoi de Paris medallists, great champions of the past, the directors and technical experts of the present and federation leaders of the future.

Now working for the French Judo Federation as Vice President of High Level Performance, Frederique Jossinet is no stranger to the Paris Grand Slam. Close to twenty appearances and with a dozen medals, including being the Paris Grand Slam champion 3 times, she is at home in the Bercy and has a long love affair with the city.

The opening ceremony of the 2024 Paris Grand Slam.

“I know judo because judo is my family. I grew up with judo, it’s such a big part of my life. I was in the French team for around 20 years, from the age of 15. When I left the team I was around 35. When I stopped I became national coach with the elite youth team. It was a really good experience and I enjoyed it but I also wanted to know something else and so I left judo and worked for the Ministry of Sport and Youth. After one and a half years there I went to football as Director of Women’s Football for France and I was tasked with organising the Women’s World Cup in 2019, working with FiFA. It was so big, an amazing experience. After that it was time to come back to the judo family. I missed it a lot."

Frederique Jossinet at the 2009 Paris Grand Slam. Photo courtesy of David Finch / Getty Images.
Paris Grand Slam 2010. Photo courtesy of Robert Danis.

"I came back with new skills and experiences. I wanted to give back to judo what judo gave me. In this last 3 years since I returned, I found a natural place. I care a lot about the organisation of our teams and it’s great to be part of it. I try to make the right things happen for them all, at all ages. I want the federation to work hand-in-hand with the high level clubs and I pushed hard to find solutions for this collaboration. I feel it is becoming a very successful element of our processes in France. I always think first about the athletes and their performances, always keeping them in the centre of their careers. The experts must work together to find the solutions for progress but thinking in this same way, with the athletes as the priority.”

Frederique Jossinet, now comfortable with her position within the judo family, loves to talk about judo, including her life and competitive career.

“My first experience of Paris was at the Coubertin and I was just 15. I placed 5th, losing against Japan and Cuba. Maybe I only missed 2 or 3 occasions in my 20 years on the national team: I couldn’t miss Paris!"

Paris World Championships, 2010.

"Paris, the Bercy, Coubertin, it’s all part of a special place but also I am from Paris, my family are Parisian. Bercy is my home, perhaps my garden. I would always love to fight there even when not 100% prepared. If I was carrying a small injury I would just do my best and fight with all my heart.

The first time I won in Paris is a great memory for me, back in 2002. The most important thing for me was that I had my family and friends here with me. They shared my feelings and emotions. I know that without them I wouldn’t have this career and so it was a huge way to thank them and make them proud. Paris was always so special.”

No-one says it differently, Paris is always so special. It is and it will continue to be.

See also